Monday, September 29, 2008

On collaborating with other writers

Over at his blog, prolific novelist Dean Wesley Smith tackles a subject that I'm sure every writer (prose, screen, whatever) has pondered to some degree: collaborating with another writer on a project.

In addition to noting that collaboration can take many forms (on most assignments, Smith doesn't even interact directly with his co-writer), Smith also offers up some words of warning and advice:

Now some words of warning about collaborations Unless you can find a writer at your same level, who complements you perfectly in style and likes and dislikes, there is no logical reason on the planet to collaborate. None. Write the book yourself. It is easier.

And if I can’t stop you, then for heaven’s sake, have a contract between the two of you before either of you write word one. A very good contract that states who is responsible for final drafts, who gets do the work of marketing, who gets to do the work of proofs and copy edits if the book sells, and things like that. And how to split the money exactly. You will thank me later.

Now, how do I keep others out of my work when collaborating? Sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes collaborations such as the book with David that I mentioned are original novels. With Jonathan Frakes, all I had was a cover and wrote a book around the cover. Other times, it’s not possible to keep the other writer out completely, such as the book I am working on now where the other author wrote the entire first half and then had an issue so I stepped in. The key is realizing how much exactly the other author will be involved when you go into a project. And know what you are capable of doing and not capable of doing in writing situations.

Check out the full post, which is fairly lengthy to read about Smith's other writing experiences, including co-writing a number of books with his wife. Pretty interesting stuff.

But, this post begs the question: Have you collaborated with another writer? How did that experience turn out? What ground rules would you suggest?

1 comment:

Onyx said...

What this post begs to question is whether or not we can get our collaboration off the ground. What do you guys think? Maybe we can prove him wrong.